Released: 2010, Frontiers Records
In the mainstream media there has been a long standing misperception that melodic hard rock has gone the way of the dinosaur. Many of us who are fans of the genre know better. There are dozens and dozens, maybe even hundreds of bands active today that could classified as ‘Hair Metal’, ‘80’s Metal, ‘Cock-rock’ or any other number of derogatory and inaccurate terms. Regardless of what you call it, this style is still as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. Frontiers Records are one of the leading lights in supporting these great bands and they have done us another favour by introducing the world to First Signal. This album could have come out in 1988 and everyone would cite it as a classic today. However, it is not 1988 it is 2010 and instead of being the ground-breaking piece, it might have been, it is simply just a fantastic record for fans of the genre.
First signal is a collaborative effort of two gentlemen Harry Hess and Denis Ward. In some pre-release press, Harry suggested that First signal has given him a chance to sing in the style of his early work with Harem Scarem. I find this to be very accurate because he hasn’t sounded this good in years. His delivery is passionate and forceful when he sings. His vocal work is reminiscent of the first three Harem Scarem albums. Long-time Harem Scarem drummer Darren is on board for some singing and although the band only called it quits a couple of years ago, it’s good to see them working together, possibly paving the way for future Harem Scarem albums.
Denis Ward, who has along history in the industry contributes guitar, bass and even does some background singing. The album starts off with a one-two punch of super smooth, hard rocking tunes, great driving songs. The band shifts gears and slows down for the next time allowing Hess’ voice to shine on slower work. Every chorus is ready-made for people to quickly recognize and sing-along.
Like most of the albums in this genre, the lyrics deal with simple topics, of love and loss and maybe a little bit of party thrown in for good measure. Nothing too deep or complicated. The guitars are crunchy and in the pocket, not too frantic, decent, simple soloing, not too much of the ‘shred’. The whole albums moves along at a firm pace, letting Hess’ vocals drive the song along. The songs are super smooth, and cruise along effortlessly sprinkled with a bit of acoustic guitar on the slower moments. There is not too much variation in the song-writing, just a standard, verse, chorus, verse chorus solo etc. In fact, I think about 10 of the 11 songs clock in at about 4.5 minutes each. It is not a complex or challenging album, but extremely listenable.
Everything about this is totally professional, fun, energetic melodic Hard Rock/ Metal. Confident and mature for a first album (even if it is delivered by seasoned pro’s) FIRST SIGNAL is hopefully a sign or signal of good things to come.